In a struggle to be happy and free

Drystone Wall

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I’m currently watching Lie to Me on Netflix1. In the episode “Exposed,” one of the guest characters has a killer automobile.

It’s clearly a BMW, and the front end looks just like an M1, which exceedingly unlikely. The M1 was produced from 1978 to 1981 and it’s a two-seater mid-engined sports car. Only 453 were built. In fact, the only reason the car was offered for sale was because they wanted to race it, and the rules require that a certain number are offered for sale to the public as a homologation special.

It’s both rare and old, and if I may say, beautiful, so it doesn’t come cheap. Values I’ve seen hover around the $500 000 range. It’s certainly not a real M1. Maybe it’s a kit?

But then later in the episode, we see it from a different angle.

As a bonus, it’s a night scene, so we see the pop-up headlights in operation. But clearly, that’s not a mid-engine two-seater! It looks like they took a 5‑series and grafted an M1 front-end on it.

I know what you’re thinking…but it took some time for my brain to come up with the truth of the matter. It is actually a BMW 8‑series:

Isn’t she a beauty?

The 8‑series was available from 1989 to 1999 and came equipped with either a 5‑speed automatic or a 6‑speed manual transmission, and a V8 or V12 engine. In fact, it was the first car available with the combination of a 6‑speed manual and a V12. It was an upscale GT but it seemed not to have worked out as production ended after just ten years, and to date, I’ve never seen one in person. The base price of about $70 000 was a lot of money in the early ’90s! Total production was 31 000 and only 7 200 of those were sold in North America.

The first two photos are from the Lie to Me episode, “Exposed,” ©2010 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.

Third photo by The Car Spy and used pursuant to the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

  1. Thanks for the suggestion, Claire!

Fozzie feelings

You know, it really feels good to do something nice for somebody you shot in the face.

Fonzie Bear, after shooting Statler in the face with a t‑shirt cannon, “Pig Out,” The Muppets, Oct 13, 2015


The X‑Files

As no doubt you’ve heard, Fox is bringing back The X‑Files as a short event miniseries (whatever that means) in January 2016. I wasn’t a fervent viewer of the original series but I enjoyed most of the episodes I watched. Noting that the series had appeared on Netflix, I revisited my two favourite episodes.

Je Souhaite

Season seven, episode twenty-one. Originally aired May 14, 2000.

Mulder and Scully are called in to investigate some weird goings on, like every other episode, really. To their great surprise, they eventually find that the weirdness is centered on a jinniyah, a female djinn. She claims that humans all wish for the wrong things, and generally make a mess of things. But then she points out that Mulder is entitled to three wishes. Will he makes the same mistakes?

I liked this one because it was a very different X‑Files episode. It was amusing and unlike every other story involving a djinn/jinniyah I’ve ever heard of, we get to hear what it’s like to be the one who fulfills the wishes. I also find that when writers start with a very unusual and fascinating story, they often don’t know how to end it. This time however, writer Vince Gilligan ends the story in what I think is a wonderfully warm and satisfying conclusion.


Season four, episode two. Originally aired October 11, 1996.

I’m not going to get into the details about this one because you’ve seen it, or you haven’t and you really should see it without having it spoiled!

Mulder and Scully are again called in to investigate some weird goings on. Mulder notices that they’re being watched by the inhabitants of the nearest house as they investigate the crime-scene. He asks the local sheriff who lives there, and you can see the sheriff is uncomfortable with the topic. He says the ancestors of the inhabitants build the house just after the civil war. Even now, the house has no electricity, running water, or sewage. No one’s visited the house or even seen the family since the parents got into a terrible car accident nearly twenty years ago. Their children brought them home, but the accident was so serious that everyone assumes they died, though no one knows for sure. You learn in the teaser that even the local children will not set foot onto their land even though it’s out in the country and the properties are huge.

So what do Mulder and Scully do? They go over and knock on the door, of course!

Be warned, this episode is creepy. It’s not really scary, but it’s suspenseful and damned creepy! If you’ve seen it, it was during the episode’s original run or on DVD. The reason being that Fox removed this episode from the syndication package because it pushes the boundaries of network television. It carried a viewer discretion warning and was the only X‑Files episode with a TV-MA (mature, ages 17+) rating.

That’s a fine head of hair you’ve got there Mulder, or are you just happy to see me?!

I initially found it interesting that both of my favourite episodes were one-off stories that didn’t tie into the series’ many long-term story lines. After some thought, it was no surprise at all because the whole “Mulder pursues evidence of aliens” did nothing for me. How many times did he almost have a break-through, but for whatever reason, it doesn’t work out. The proof is destroyed, stolen, fake, or otherwise worthless. You can only do that to viewers so many times because they don’t believe it’ll ever really happen. Indeed, the show in its current form would end if it happened. It was not nearly as bad as Lost, but we knew it was never going to happen.

Still, I’ll have a look at the upcoming mini-series, in no small part because the lone gunmen are back, baby!

Image credit unknown, though I have to believe it has something to do with Fox Television.

CBC News is a joke

On The Sunday Edition this morning, host Michael Enright sat down with Stéphane Dion, the Liberal critic for Canadian Heritage, to discuss the Liberal vision for the CBC. What struck me is Enright’s introduction to the story. He brought up the dilemma of how the CBC should report on itself.

This inspired me to write a comment on the Sunday Edition web site:

I’m surprised you’d even ask about the dilemma of how the CBC should cover itself. Having been a longtime CBC News watcher/listener, I’ve seen it first-hand. The answer is to cover the CBC only to distance itself from any problematic people (Jian Ghomeshi) or ignore the real stories entirely (Rex Murphy, Peter Mansbridge, and Amanda Lang). More than anything, the CBC’s reaction to the Lang affair is what ended my nearly thirty-year reliance on the CBC as my primary news source. CBC News, as an organization, has forgotten its purpose and cannot be trusted to uphold basic journalistic integrity.

A couple of years back, the CBC reported that the Royal Bank brought in foreign workers to do jobs that Canadians could have done. Canadaland reported that Amanda Lang unsuccessfully tried to get the story scuttled. Later, Lang wrote an opinion piece for the Globe and Mail about how the story was a non-issue. She did this entirely of her own volition, and broke CBC News rules in the process. Then, she had Royal Bank CEO Gord Nixon on her show for a softball interview. What really blew my mind is that while she reported on the Royal Bank, she was in a serious relationship with W. Geoffrey Beattie, who also is the chair of the Royal Bank’s Risk Committee, on their human resources committee, and member of the Royal Bank board.

Once this story broke, how did the CBC handle it? By circling the wagons. CBC Head of Public Affairs Chuck Thompson told CanadaLand,

Amanda did declare her relationship with Geoff Beattie to her executive producer (Robert Lack) and he has the appropriate processes in place.

What were these appropriate processes? We have no idea. I’d suggest that there are no appropriate processes for this situation. She should have not been involved in the reporting of the story, period. Her working to influence the story tells me she doesn’t have any idea what journalist integrity means.

You’ll recall Gordon Hewart’s famous words about justice,

justice should not only be done, but should manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to be done

I’d suggest the same is true for conflicts of interest. Not only must there be no conflict of interest, but there must not be even the perception of any conflict of interest. Putting some alleged backroom control into place isn’t nearly enough. Reporting the news is entirely about trust. Every time I see Amanda Lang reporting the news, I am reminded that the CBC is not worthy of my trust.

It saddens me because I genuinely like the CBC, but also for all the other reporters and worker who strive to do the right thing. They’ve been betrayed by management and some of their co-workers.

What really closed the book on my trust in the CBC was the response Jennifer McGuire, General Manager and Editor in Chief of CBC News, posted about this mess. In part, she said,

It is unfortunate that our internal processes are fodder for external debate by people who have their own agendas.

Can you believe the cluelessness? She’s running a publicly funded organization and calls it unfortunate that taxpayers are learning about what their tax dollars are funding. Further, the business of news organizations is to do exactly this sort of thing! I suspect she thinks it’s unfortunate Lang was caught rather than it being unfortunate we learned about their internal processes.

Sunday Edition image © CBC

Antenna adventure results

I was going to title this post Antenna adventure ends, or something along those lines, but I thought it had already ended before I climbed back on to the roof this morning!

One of the earlier times I thought I was done, I posted the results. Brad offered some suggestions in the comments which resulted in my removing the reflector from the smaller antenna and combining the signals from both antennas. That was a disaster. The results were worse than either antenna alone. So I wired each antenna separately, and not having things set up inside to use two separate signals, I’ve been using the smaller antenna alone since July. Strangely enough, the four-bay antenna without a reflector did just as well pulling in the Toronto signals as an eight-bay antenna with the reflector. The only channel I’ve had difficultly with was CTV, out of Toronto. Having only one problematic channel isn’t bad, but it’s the channel I watch the most! With Canadian stations being what they are, most of the programs I watch on CTV are imports from the US, and the stations they come from offer exceptional signals directly to me, so things were pretty good.

Then it hit me this morning. The reason CTV is so problematic is not because of Toronto’s distance and the terrain between my antenna and the transmitter. The reason is because CTV is transmitting on channel 9, which is the only VHF channel left in Toronto. The two antennas I had up are not designed to receive VHF, though they can serve in that role with a strong signal. The CTV signal isn’t strong because the transmitter is far, and there’s terrain preventing line-of-sight transmission. Since the big antenna wasn’t performing any better than the small one, I took down the big antenna. I have a VHF-high antenna that I didn’t bother using because I thought the other antennas would do the job. Since they weren’t, I made a change:

The top antenna is as it was, except I removed the reflector. It’s a four-bay ChannelMaster 4221HD and it brings in every UHF channel in the area. To address its VHF shortcoming, I added the Winegard YA-1713 VHF-high antenna. I did this because I already had the Winegard antenna. I would not have purchased it just to pull in CTV when most of the programs I want on that station are also available from the US stations. It was just sitting in the garage so I thought I might as well use it for a complete line-up.

This also takes care of my difficulty configuring my home theatre set-up to use two signal inputs. The pre-amp on the mast has a UHF input and a separate VHF input, so when I connect each antenna to the appropriate input, the signals are amplified, combined, and brought into the house on a single co-axial cable.

Weird, isn’t it? The $50 2½′ tall antenna pulls in every channel perfectly but one. To get that one channel, I need another antenna nearly 8½′ long that costs more than twice as much! It does make sense though, as longer frequencies need bigger antennas.

I’ve learned of another advantage of using an antenna over Canadian cable and satellite. When a Canadian station licences a US program and shows it at the same time as the US network, the Canadian station will substitute its own commercials just as you’d expect. What you might not expect, is the Canadian channel’s feed overwrites the US network when you tune in to the US network. They call it simultaneous substitution and use it to make sure Canadians see Canadian ads. As I said, this only happens with Canadian cable and satellite. While it’s not a big deal (outside of the Superbowl), mistakes happen and I’ve seen the last minute or two clipped off the end of a program. It’s not nice to sit there for an hour, and then be denied the last minute of the program! Given that I receive the signals directly from the US transmitters, I find myself choosing to record US shows from the US stations, eliminating any potential simultaneous substitution screw-ups.

Despite my delight at not having to submit to simultaneous substitution, I wouldn’t be happy with only the US stations. I want to watch Canadian news, and there are some Canadian stations that are not largely US rebroadcasters, such as TVOntario. Though my channel choice is limited, the channels I do get offer most of what I want, and the US stations are actually the US stations … commercials and all. My latest channel scan reports 49 channels so I do have a selection.

Oh, and did I mention that my monthly fee is $0?!

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